Over a 30-year career working to conserve wildlife in the Great Lakes area, John Hartig has seen and learned an awful lot. Hartig is the Refuge Manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, located just south of the automobile capital of America.
Hartig has a first-hand view of a disappointing trend developing along city lines – as technology grows more and more pervasive, urban residents are becoming less and less connected to the natural world around them.
In Hartig’s recent book, titled Bringing Conservation to the Cities: Lessons from Building the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, he notes that a compelling 54 percent of the world’s population now lives in or around urban areas, and that number is steadily rising. With a relative few actual acres of public lands in close proximity to urban centers, wide margins of would-be advocates, hikers and wildlife enthusiasts are being left out of the conservation conversation.
“As a global community,” Hartig said, “we cannot allow this disconnection to continue.”
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge has grown under Hartig’s leadership to pioneer the idea of bringing conservation efforts into cities. Over the last decade, Hartig had a hand in organizing an effort to remove over 115,000 cubic yards of polluted sludge from the Detroit River. Clean-up crews are also eyeing the Great Lakes, in hopes of attracting plants and wildlife back to their once native habitat.
“Today, the cleanup and recovery of the Detroit River represent one of the single most remarkable ecological recovery stories in North America,” said Hartig.
Bringing Conservation to the Cities is Hartig’s fourth book about revitalizing the Detroit River area, and his past works have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, Hartig received the honor of Conservation Advocate of the Year from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. His third book, Burning Rivers, was a 2011 Green Book Festival first-prize winner in the “science” category. While earlier works largely detail cleanup efforts along the Detroit River, Bringing Conservation to the Cities deals more with international partnerships working to engage urban communities worldwide in environmental affairs.
“If we can bring conservation to the Detroit-Windsor Metropolitan Area and make nature part of everyday urban life in these automobile capitals, we can do it anywhere,” noted former U.S. Congressman John D. Dingell, on the book’s jacket. “I recommend this book to you, particularly its lessons learned, and hope that it will inspire you to bring conservation to your city.”
For more information about Bringing Conservation to the Cities, and where you can purchase it, click here.